Ft Myers FL, 0530
The sound of nuclear fallout sirens becomes part of a dream I'm having about bicycling across Europe. I can hear the siren all around me, but I can't seem to find the source. I keep riding, but all around me the sounds of certain and imminent destruction continue to rain down on my ears. And then I'm awake.
Miami is a good 2 hours away from Ft. Myers. I need to get up and get ready. Traffic will probably eat up a chunk of time. 30 minutes later I am freshly laundered and ready for the day. The curtains in my hotel are drawn to ensure complete darkness while I sleep. I hate coming back to a dark and silent hotel room, it's depressing. And the overwhelming silence screams loneliness and isolation. So before I depart for the day I always do two things. First, I open the drapes all the way so when I enter my room I am greeted by the outside world through double plate glass windows. This eases the sense of claustrophobia. Second, I turn on the TV and reduce the sound to just above a whisper. The sound from the set gives the aura of a false sense of activity inside.
I take a minute to watch the dark streets outside the window. There are a few cars on the road undoubtedly others like myself who are starting their daily commute. Their days starting ahead of mine.
As I enter the lobby of the hotel I am greeted by the smell of fresh brewed coffee and the continental breakfast buffet. I inhale deeply and take a moment to enjoy the comforting smell of breakfast and the start of a new day.
Outside the air is warm and the humidity is close enough to touch. There is dew on the windows from the humidity. It takes me a few minutes to wipe it all off. In the car I roll the windows down and turn on the back window defrost as well as the front windshield. The dew on the windows won't leave without a fight.
Windshield wipers at full speed I leave the parking lot my windows are still down. The salt marsh air filters in the car freely. Soon the sun will rise and its heat will chase the dew away. As people get out and about the salty air will be replaced with smog and car exhaust. But right now the air is still fresh and the sounds of humanity are still held at bay by cover of left over night fall.
This is my favorite time of day. Yesterday and all that came with it was smothered by the darkness. Today, as he soon starts to lighten up the western sky a promise of a good thing to come still abounds.
0630 the darkness is now in full retreat. The light from the west is starting to take hold. The horizon is still pink and the clouds that are hanging low look like they are on fire. I'm on I-75 heading south to Miami. Crossing alligator alley the cool water and the heavy warm air collide, creating a low hanging fog over the Everglades. Soon it covers the freeway, making visibility difficult. The sun hasn't risen high enough to burn off the fog. But the further south I go it too goes the way of the dew on the grass.
The sun moves higher its burn is hot, clearing the freeway and making my descent south free of fog. The night time cover of darkness is now a distant memory. The colors of the Everglades start to pop. Green vegetation and pure white egrets cover the ground. Cypress trees and Sawgrass holding back the mysteries of freshwater swamps. Black gators on the tops of banks and sliding gracefully on top of the water. On the surface, it looks like an idyllic and peaceful.
The morning brightness becomes more vivid my eyes starting to squint I put my sunglasses on. This part of the freeway has 10 foot fences with barbed wire mounted on top facing the Everglades. Whatever predators are out there these fences are meant to keep them at bay. I wonder what creatures could be so big as to require 10 foot barbed wire fences. I see gators swimming in the marshes and birds of prey circling overhead. I wonder what poor creature is close to death to garner their attention.
I-75 for the most part is clear of traffic. My rental and I move at a good clip south my Nexus 7 tablets are playing my favorite podcast. I am alone with my thoughts. The voices blaring out of the car's speakers are what keeps me company.
As a rule I am a night owl. Rising early in the morning and starting the my day has never been an easy thing for me. If I had my way days wouldn't start before before 10 possibly noon. I have always felt the early morning hours are the hardest to overcome. For some it comes easily I am not one of those people.
The irony here is I love seeing the sun come up. The rising sun has always given me hopes of a better day than the one before it. What's more is that if I had my way I'd be able to blissfully sleep through it all. Joining the day well after the sun has burned off the night before.
Better still, I would start my day well after the morning commute has ended. It's now 8am and I have now stopped on the north side of Miami. Traffic is gridlocked I still have 20 miles to go and my 8:30 arrival is not looking good. As I sit there patiently waiting for traffic to start moving forward I look in my rear view mirror and am startled to see a black Cadillac STS coming at me. I see the driver. Hes just noticed I was not moving. His speed is clocked around 70. I hunch my shoulders waiting for the impact. At the last second he swerves into the adjacent lane missing me by less than a foot. His brakes fully applied his car starts to skid. His car slides over and flies past me.
My heart is racing knowing the traffic gods were with me. Had he hit me at that speed I would surely have been killed. Fortunately the other lane was moving and no one was beside him. 300 ft in the other lane to his car stops.
I take a moment to cross myself and give thanks my time on earth has been extended for a while longer.
Picking up the phone I call my wife tell her I love her and that she was almost a widow this morning. She's grateful I'm still on this earth.
As my day moves forward I'm just grateful I got to see the sunrise. And more importantly, I get to see the sunset with the promise of the new day lurking on the horizon its a good day to be alive.